Good drivers are predictable —?are you?

As a skier, there is always a chance of being run into by another skier or snowboarder overtaking you from behind. Any skier, unless they are on a “bunny” slope or in a race, needs to make continuous turns to check their speed. If you are closing in on a skier in front of you that is turning back and forth in a continuous rhythm, you feel confident that you can safely pass that skier, because you can predict when he/she will be turning. But what if that skier continued making a right turn at about the time when you thought he would be turning left, and as you tried to pass him, he continued into your path and you both crashed?

You can apply the same thinking to your driving. When a driver is predictable, other drivers have a better chance to avoid a potentially dangerous situation. How many times have you been behind a car traveling at 55 mph when the car begins to slow down to turn into a driveway but fails to signal the turn? At this point, you don’t know why he slowed. Various possibilities go through your mind, like perhaps he will turn left, or right, or perhaps there is another vehicle ahead going slower. But, if this driver had been more predictable by turning on his turn signal, making his intentions known just before he began slowing, he would have communicated to you that he was about to turn into a driveway.

Here’s another example. You are waiting at a red signal and intend to make a left turn. Of course you have your left turn signal on. Now, opposite you at the same light, there is a vehicle intending to also make a left turn, but this driver did not use his turn signal. You would likely assume he intended to go straight through this intersection and thus you would have to yield the right-of-way to him, but when the light turned green, he suddenly turned left. Had he communicated his intention to turn left by using his turn signal, you would have been able to complete your left turn simultaneously.

In all the above examples, predictability is important to safety. In the skier example, skier protocol is for the overtaking skier to holler “on your right”, or “on your left”, meaning he/she will pass the slower skier on the stated side. With vehicles, drivers can’t holler to other drivers, so that’s why we equip vehicles with turn signals, so we can be predictable to other drivers. Vehicles have brake lights so following drivers will know when we are braking, and hazard lights to let others know when we may constitute a hazard to other drivers.

Did you ever come upon a vehicle that is weaving from side to side? These are drivers that we assume may be impaired, and because of their unpredictability, we are hesitant to pass them.

So, the lesson of this article is to become as predictable a driver as you possibly can. If other drivers know what you are planning to do, they can drive accordingly. This may just be one of the most important traits of a good driver.

For more articles on Vehicle and Traffic Law and traffic safety, visit the Traffic Safety Board’s website at www.franklincony.org/ and click on the Traffic Safety Board from the pull-down menu under departments. “Like” us on Facebook as well.